Cross-genre properties are always popular. Some, like space westerns or horror comedies, are everywhere; a new one pops up every few months. But others are more rare, and those are the ones that leave a greater impact when done right. It’s too early to tell what kind of impact Matt Kindt and David Rubin’s fantasy mystery Ether will have, but the first two issues show a ton of potential for greatness.
Ether is the story of Boone Dias, a scientist that travels between Earth and the magical realm of the Ether for research. Boone doesn’t believe in magic; he views it as unexplained science and seeks to make “order from the chaos.” But to residents of the Ether, Boone is much more. He’s their go-to detective, solving cases that seem unsolveable. So when the Ether’s head of security is found murdered, Boone is dragged in to help.
Be warned: Ether #1 is deceptively shallow. Most of the issue feels like a fun and somewhat campy romp without any real weight. And there’d be no problem with that; light and simple can make for a good read. But then the last few pages hit, and Kindt throws the curveball he’s been saving the whole game. It’s clear that he has a much deeper story to tell, and he carries that momentum straight into issue two.
Issue two spends much more time fleshing out its cast of characters. It still has all the fun and humor of the first issue, but it takes the time to dig into various backstories and show what makes certain players tick. Out of the first two issues, this is the one with more heart. It gives the readers a reason to care instead of just offering a fun ride. Kindt also opens up a world (or realm) of possibilities, as certain revelations bring into question everything that’s occurred so far.
David Rubin’s artwork is a consistent and mind bending tour de force through the first two issues. His spreads of the Ether are pinup worthy, and his colors breath life into this imaginary world. Maybe even more impressive though is how well he can transition to the bleak and grim reality of our world without missing a beat. Art is typically something that has to speak for itself. Rubin’s work doesn’t just speak volumes; it shouts them.
There are only a couple of gripes about this series so far, but they’re honestly negligible compared to all the good this series is offering. First, the dialogue can come off as inauthentic at times. But it seems like Kindt is going for a certain amount of camp, so this is easily excusable, and it actually adds to the humor. Also, the pacing feels a tad off; things can seem quick moving between panels, like there’s a transition missing. But neither of these “complaints” are severe enough to ruin an otherwise strong narrative.
The Bottom Line
Think Sherlock meets Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch could totally play Boone in an adaptation).
Ether has a little bit of something for everyone. It’s funny, it’s emotional, and – most important – it’s entertaining. Be sure to pick up issue one when it hits shelves next week (issue two is currently scheduled for December 21).